NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey says quarterback Marcus Mariota’s status is still unclear for their upcoming matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
The Titans coach remains hopeful that Mariota will play despite a strained hamstring .
Mariota, who was hurt in last week’s loss to Houston, was limited in practice, stretching and throwing passes during the open portion of the workouts today. The quarterback did not speak with the media after practice.
“We didn’t ask him to do very much, we were smart with him,” Mularkey said. “We did what we thought he could do, and that wasn’t very much, but enough. We’re going to be smart with him; positive for what he had to do.”
Mularkey says he would be comfortable playing the quarterback Sunday even without a full practice.
The Titans (2-2) signed Brandon Weeden to a one-year deal Tuesday as a third quarterback as insurance if Mariota isn’t able to play Sunday. Mularkey says Weeden’s familiarity with the Titans’ offense from his stints with Dallas and Houston was the deciding factor. Weeden also knows Titans backup quarterback Matt Cassel from Dallas.
“As quickly as we could get somebody up to speed in a short amount of time, he had the advantage over everybody,” Mularkey said.
Mularkey says he was not aware if Tennessee considered Colin Kaepernick, also a mobile quarterback like Mariota.
“I know he’s not familiar with our offense,” Mularkey said. “I know T.J. Yates had some experience with it in Atlanta and with us for a couple of weeks. That was about it.”
The Titans signed Cassel to a two-year extension in March after having him back up Mariota last season. Cassel won the only game he started in the season finale, but he was 4 of 10 for 21 yards with two interceptions in the second half of the loss to Houston.
Cassel took all the reps today, and the veteran said that helps mentally anytime for a backup with the possibility of playing.
“It’s my job week in to week out to be prepared, be accountable, but the mental reps is one thing and also going into a game you never know when your opportunity’s going to come up,” Cassel said. “It’s always a surprise when it does.”
Mularkey insists the Titans’ offense won’t differ much if Cassel plays instead of Mariota. But Mariota just ran for two TDs for the first time in his career, the franchise’s first quarterback with two TDs rushing since Steve McNair against New England on Oct. 5, 2003.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said that makes a tough assignment for his defensive coaches with Mariota and Cassel so different.
“You watch Marcus play, and there are not many guys that play that position and run for a 40-yard touchdown and run away from everybody,” Gase said. “He causes a lot of problems and puts a lot of options on the table for them.”
The good thing for Tennessee if Mularkey and trainers decide Mariota can play Sunday is that the Titans have allowed only four sacks this season, tied for second lowest in the NFL.
NOTES: Mularkey said LG Quinton Spain (turf toe), WR Corey Davis (hamstring) and S Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) did not practice. Mularkey said he hopes Spain can practice some Thursday. CB Tye Smith hurt his neck in a collision and was limited the remainder of practice.